WHDL - 00014623
WHDL - 00014623
In 2015, President Obama announced the America’s College Promise (ACP) initiative, which proposed making two years of community college free for qualifying students. The ACP was inspired by the Tennessee Promise and was a response to the growing need for skilled workers in the workforce and because the primary barrier to higher education is cost. After announcement of the ACP, other states, communities, and colleges have proposed and/or implemented their own Promise scholarship programs. Because the ACP does not have specific guidelines for these programs, the various programs have their own student requirements for eligibility and to maintain the scholarship. Some of these requirements are activities that encourage academic or social integration of the student into the institution. Using Tinto’s theory of persistence, this mixed methods study explored the relationship between the various Promise scholarship program requirements and the student’s retention, as well as their perceived academic and social integration. This explanatory sequential research study used institutional data, an online survey, and individual student interviews. Results indicate an increase in Promise scholarship student retention rates in the second year of the Promise scholarship program, regardless of the institution, and only a slight difference in retention rates between institutions. The requirement of advising sessions and community service hours lead to higher academic integration and, therefore, higher retention. Interviewed students expressed gratitude for receiving the Promise scholarship and emphasized the relationships with and quality of the instructors. Students appreciated the ability to focus on their education instead of the stress of finances. Quality faculty and the focus on education also lead to higher academic integration.
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